Trump on Regulation: Maybe None, Maybe Some

Donald Trump has offered a few glimpses into his thinking about regulation, but his proposals—especially about environmental regulation—appear to conflict.

Donald Trump speaks at a Washington, D.C. event

In an interview May 5 on CNBC, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee heartened conservatives by declaring that he wanted to “get rid of regulations.” Less clear is whether he meant all regulations or just some.

In that interview, Trump said that businesses were talking to him more about regulations than lowering taxes. 

“It’s incredible when I listen to the stories where people can't even open up small businesses,” Trump said. “They have to go through all sorts of rules, regulations, 90 percent of which have no bearing on what they do.”

Having said that, Trump gave his most expansive comments to date on the issue of regulation in a May 26 speech in Bismarck, N.D.

In that speech, Trump said his first 100-day action plan would start with rescinding “job-destroying” executive actions by President Barack Obama, including Obama’s climate action plan and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

Further, Trump vowed repeatedly to “save” the coal industry.

Trump said he would ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline, lift the moratorium on energy production in federal areas and revoke restrictions on new drilling technology.

TransCanada construction site

In addition, Trump said he would nullify the Paris climate change agreement and halt all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global warming programs.

“Any regulation that's outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped and scrapped completely," Trump said. “Will we also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty—which is very important—and trust local officials and local residents.”

“Any future regulation will go through a simple test: Is this regulation good for the American worker?” he added. “If it doesn’t pass this test, this rule will not be under any circumstances approved.”

Then, in the same speech, Trump appeared to soften his position. “We're going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns,” he said.

Trump pledged to take care of natural resources. At the same time, under a Trump administration, political activists with extreme agendas would no longer write the rules, he said.

Instead, Trump said he would work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature: “From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water, right?”